You've probably heard about Watson, IBM's latest smarter-than-you supercomputer. This week it --and won.
Thankfully, Watson is not self-aware (yet), because we all know that once computers become self-aware one of the first things they do is try to wipe out humans, or even humanity itself. If my name was Sarah Connor I'd be nervous right about now.
But that lack of self-awareness doesn't mean Watson can't think for itself, or even speak for itself. In fact, right now you can (sort of) ask Watson questions online on this Reddit thread. It's part of Reddit's popular "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) feature, and while users are encouraged to ask anything, there's no guarantee you'll get a response.
Well, it's not actually Watson that's doing the answering, but the research team that created it, and that's because they don't yet know how to have him do it. That man-machine divide, by the way, is what we'll be addressing on tomorrow'sat noon PT. The topic will be "robobrain vs. humanity."
Still, it's still great that the scienticians who put together such an impressive machine are opening their minds to the public. Redditors have already asked some rather technical questions, including, "How do you go about 'teaching' Watson to derive the non-literal/idiomatic meaning from phrases like 'around the corner? Does it rely on a huge (human dictated) list of such 'rules'?" and "Could you give an example of a question (or question style) that Watson would always struggle with?"
Valid questions all, but we'd like to get answers to the juicier ones, such as "Is Watson seeing anybody?" "Does Watson ever feel? If so, does he feel overshadowed by Sherlock Holmes?" and "Does Watson think I get the Verizon iPhone now or wait for the next generation?" Even better, you, the readers, should ask something. After all, it's not every day you get to query the brains behind a supercomputer.
Clarification, 9:35 PT: In response to reader concerns, this story has been altered to make it more clear that the team behind Watson, and not the computer itself, is answering questions posed on Reddit.